Apparently, it is a long-standing yearly tradition for the sitting President of the United States to invite thousands of American children and their families to celebrate Easter with an “egg roll” on the White House lawns. I suspect the reason I didn’t know about this tradition until this year is because I am Canadian, most of my friends are Canadian, and it really doesn’t matter to us or to the global community at large HOW the current POTUS chooses to celebrate Easter. (As long as they aren’t, you know, dropping bombs and missiles on Middle Eastern countries with no clear sense of foreign policy or military strategy or baiting North Korea on Twitter or doing some other highly crazy thing that would spell disaster for us all).
But this year, I do know about the White House egg roll, and the reason I know about the White House egg roll is because progressive/left-leaning media articles shared by progressive/left-leaning friends on my social media feeds have gleefully devoted many words to describing the Trump White House’s failure to adequately prepare for the event. More than one outlet has quoted Melinda Bates (former egg roll planner for Bill Clinton’s administration) and her comments in the New York Times: “[The egg roll is] the single most high-profile event that takes place at the White House each year, and the White House and the first lady are judged on how well they put it on” (emphasis mine), or otherwise made a point of mentioning that the annual egg roll is a reflection on the current First Lady, and through her, on her husband’s administration.
Now, there are plenty of very VERY good reasons to have a problem with the Trump administration, and, perhaps contrary to an earlier blog post of mine, there are also lots of reasons to specifically have a problem with First Lady Melania (her plagiarism of Michelle Obama’s speech at the Republican National Convention, her hypocritical support for her husband’s anti-immigrant and anti-woman policies, and her refusal to move into the White House [at a cost of millions of dollars to U.S. taxpayers, who must now pay extra to secure the Trump’s New York City penthouse], for example).
But there’s Real News, Fake News, and then there’s distracting bullshit that really shouldn’t be news at all, ESPECIALLY among so-called “progressive” media and critical media consumers. Apparently, we are having so much fun mocking the Trumps for their every misstep that we’re willing to reinforce what I had hoped was now merely an antiquated sexist notion—the idea that the success of a man’s enterprise depends on, and is reflected in, his wife’s ability to play hostess. Did we all end up in some 1960s edition of Ladies’ Home Journal without realizing it? Is it truly important that the spouse of a nation’s leader host a good Easter party? And is it really newsworthy if they don’t?
The Trumps are a family without shame, and whether their first egg roll was a disastrous f*ck up or the successful, more “traditional” affair their PR people say it was probably doesn’t really matter to them, and really shouldn’t matter to us. The best the rest of the world can hope for is to make it through the next four years without being blown to smithereens. In the meantime, there are plenty of good ways to voice our displeasure about the current state of U.S. politics without gossiping about Melania Trump’s failure to fulfill outdated stereotypes about a woman’s role in the political machine or devoting an entire New York Times article to her dress. (Okay, it was in NYT’s Style section, but still).
My newsfeeds, national public broadcasts, and issues of Maclean’s are constantly saturated with stories about Donald Trump—his policies, his people, his bloody Tweets. Whether we like it or not, President Trump is one of the most powerful people in the world right now, and what he does (or doesn’t do) is important.
But let’s not be petty, and let’s not stoop. Let’s not distract ourselves from our legitimate concerns about Trump and his family (and their various conflicts of interest, etc.) by pushing old-fashioned gender norms about party planning. In any other situation, we would be ashamed to measure a woman by such a yardstick simply because she’s somebody’s wife. If we aren’t ashamed, we should be, by both the sexism and the sheer frivolousness of this kind of criticism. In the past days, eggs have been rolling, and missiles have been flying—which do we think is more important?